The National Health Security Strategy 2015-2018 (NHSS) provides strategic direction to ensure that efforts to improve health security nationwide over the next four years are guided by a common vision; based on sound evidence; and carried out in an efficient, collaborative manner. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) led the development of the NHSS in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders, including representatives from local, state, territorial, tribal, and federal governments; community-based organizations; private-sector firms; and academia.
National health security is a state in which the nation and its people are prepared for, protected from, and resilient in the face of incidents with health consequences. The strategy is one of the most important documents for the public health, healthcare, and emergency management communities, providing a framework to build community resilience, strengthen and sustain health emergency response systems, improve capabilities, and prioritize resources on current and future budgets.
The NHSS describes a vision and goal for national health security. It also identifies five strategic objectives. Each objective includes priorities that require dedicated and focused attention for the next four years. The NHSS Implementation Plan lists activities that stakeholders in national health security may perform over the next four years in support of the priorities.
A nation that is secure and resilient in the face of diverse incidents with health consequences, with people in all communities enjoying a high level of security against threats to their health and well-being.
To strengthen and sustain communities’ abilities to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from incidents with negative health consequences.
Strategic Objective 1: Build and sustain healthy, resilient communities. The NHSS aims to improve community health resilience—a community’s ability to use its assets to strengthen public health and healthcare systems and to improve the community’s physical, behavioral, and social health in order to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity. This objective focuses on encouraging social connectedness, enhancing coordination of health and human services through partnerships, and building a culture of resilience.
Strategic Objective 2: Enhance the national capability to produce and effectively use both medical countermeasures and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Countermeasures are used to protect communities from and limit the adverse health impacts of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) attacks, outbreaks of infectious diseases, and other incidents. This objective aims to make available a range of medical countermeasures and non-pharmaceutical interventions to protect health during incidents; expand non-federal stakeholder involvement in the Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE) process; focus research and translation of findings on non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs); and improve distribution and dispensing of medical countermeasures.
Strategic Objective 3: Ensure comprehensive health situational awareness to support decision-making before incidents and during response and recovery operations. Active and timely situational awareness provides the foundation for decisions and actions that may result in better resource utilization, successful prevention and mitigation of emerging threats, and improved health security for the nation. This objective focuses on improving data-sharing, using innovative systems and tools for health situational awareness (HSA), improving operational capabilities to meet the full range of HSA needs across stakeholders, developing a collaborative oversight body for HSA, and addressing technological and policy barriers to HSA.
Strategic Objective 4: Enhance the integration and effectiveness of the public health, healthcare, and emergency management systems. The integration of public health, healthcare, and emergency management systems means that they are able to work together effectively and efficiently routinely, mutually supporting one another so that they can seamlessly scale up to handle increased requirements or demands during the mitigation, response, and recovery phases of an incident. This objective seeks to strengthen healthcare coalitions and regional planning alliances, build on and improve routine services and systems, ensure that the integrated systems can scale to meet the access and functional needs of at-risk individuals, strengthen health security workforce education, increase the number of trained workers and volunteers, and effectively manage and use that workforce.
Strategic Objective 5: Strengthen global health security. Global health security refers to preparedness for, response to, and recovery from incidents that adversely affect health and that also could pose a risk to security, destabilize economies, disrupt social cohesion, and affect the critical business of government. This objective seeks to improve global health security by supporting the implementation of the World Health Organization (WHO) International Health Regulations.
Implementation of the NHSS
The NHSS Implementation Plan (IP) serves as a framework to help guide the nation and facilitate collaboration and coordination among community organizations and businesses, as well as local, state, tribal, and federal agencies in their pursuit of advancing national health security. Communities are making contributions to national health security every day. For example, the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) and the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) cooperative agreements, administered by HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and ASPR, respectively, are key federal investments in national health security. The programs provide both financial and technical to help awardees to strengthen public health and medical response systems and enhance community preparedness.
The NHSS IP aims to unify the communities’ effort and ensure future progress. The IP describes specific implementation activities, vetted through an intensive stakeholder engagement process managed by ASPR, on which stakeholders can collaborate to address the NHSS priorities from 2015-2018. Alignment of the PHEP and HPP programs has included such efforts as working with a common set of preparedness capabilities, aligning the grant application process, and use of common performance indicators that support the implementation of national health security initiatives.
Progress toward achieving national health security is assessed every four years and reported in the Congressionally-mandated National Health Security Review (NHSR). The NHSR serves as a status update to let Congress and the American people know what progress has been made – and what gaps remain – in the Nation’s national health security efforts.